Fresh and close to home
Fresh, locally grown produce is widely available throughout the year
by Keith Beebe
An integral part of country living is local food sources, and the options around the Elburn area offer a lot of variety.
Every year, farms such as Kuipers, Gould’s and Norton Produce grow items like apples, strawberries, raspberries grapes, tomatoes, sweet corn, squash, honey and pumpkins for the community to purchase and enjoy. Some even offer Christmas trees for sale during winter, though you probably shouldn’t try to eat any of those.
Peak seasons vary from farm to farm, as some open Labor Day weekend and run until Christmas, while others open in late-April and close after Halloween. Some farms focus on producing a few specific items, while others, such as Norton Produce and Yaeger’s Family Farm, take more of a jack-of-all-trades approach and produce different fruits and vegetables each month.
“We do try to raise something new or different each year, as new types of vegetables are introduced. Fresh asparagus begins approximately the first week of May, weather permitting; strawberry season begins approximately the first week of June, and is usually only three weeks long; raspberries follow shortly after strawberries, and several other fresh grown vegetables are harvested for sale around the middle of June,” said Benn Norton, son of owners Caryl and Dexter Norton.
Items such as potatoes, onions, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, summer squash, beets and zucchini are just a few of the vegetables raised on the farm and harvested fresh each day, Norton said. The farm begins to sell tomatoes as June ends and then prepares for sweet corn season, which begins right after July 4. Sweet corn is sold until mid-September.
Yaeger’s Family Farm, which will celebrate its 42nd year of business in 2009, is open from mid-April to Halloween, and offers a staggering amount of products during the summer.
“We are well known for our home-grown bi-color sweet corn,” said owner Mark Yaeger. “We also grow beets, cabbage, cucumbers, zucchini, pickling cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and onions that are all available throughout the summer.”
Apples are also an extremely popular food item, and farms such as Kuipers and Plank Road Apple Orchard offer several varieties of the fruit.
“Our business opens each fall on Labor Day weekend when we begin harvesting apples. Currently we grow over 25 varieties of apples,” said Kim Kuipers, owner of Kuipers Family Farm.
Apple cider, produced by farms such as Gould’s, is also a popular item in the Kaneland area.
“We’re the third generation to run this place,” owner Tom Gould said, who runs the farm with his wife, Marilyn. “We sell fresh apple cider and we run a cider mill that was built in 1883.”
As fall approaches, pumpkins become the popular item for sale.
“In mid-September, our Pumpkin Farm opens and we begin harvesting many varieties of pumpkins for cooking, decorating and, of course, carving. We also grow many types of squash and gourds here on the farm, which are available for purchase in The Barn Store,” Kuipers said. “There are several farm markets in the area that are a wonderful source of in season fruits and vegetables,” Yaeger said. “It is always nice to know where your food comes from, and it is nice to be able to put a face with who raised it.”